What research is being done into treatment of suicidal symptoms?

Maureen Q. Russell, MPH, RN
Geriatric Medicine

Research into suicide, its risk factors and warning signs is being approached in a number of ways.

  • A network of National Centers of Excellence for Depression is under development, identifying sites across the country and coordinating research efforts.
  • Harvard has a program that focuses on the "how" rather than the "why” of suicide. MEANS MATTER provides good insight into means restriction, and its effect on decreasing loss to suicide. Means restriction methods include safe gun storage (or removal), drug / medication management, and bridge barriers. See
  • Dr. Thomas Joiner is working to define behavioral/psychological factors common to suicide victims: 1. fearlessness (ability to disregard risk of physical harm) 2. Burdensomeness (the sense of being a burden to others) and 3. Lack of a sense of belonging to one's social network.

Other research efforts surround education efforts of healthcare providers and others to better recognize and respond when they think someone is at risk. For more information check out This Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a wealth of information about current efforts and best practices.

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Examples of ongoing or recently completed studies on topics related to depression and suicide in older adults include:
  • Overcoming barriers to treatment for depression Improving adherence to treatment
  • The relationship between other medical illnesses and depression
  • Physical function and depression
  • Depression treatment for depressed older adults in homecare
  • Treatment services for depression
  • Death rates of depressed older adults, compared to others
  • Depression treatment for low-income older adults
  • Depression treatment for caregivers of older adults
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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